Jim Nussle

Creating the member experience

We create value by prioritizing the needs of members, the community, and employees.

July 5, 2022

It’s safe to say the people who make up the credit union movement believe in what we do.

We’re fortunate to go to work every day as part of a movement that works to improve our members’ financial well-being and advance the communities we serve.

The more I talk about this with credit union leaders, the more it’s apparent that the member is at the center of everything we do. Think of it as a rule of thumb: If we put the member first, we can’t go wrong.

Banks don’t put customers first, we do. And that’s reflected in the way our members feel about us and about the value we offer. 

Our 2022 National Voter Poll shows, without question, credit union members have greater financial resilience—and a better likelihood of improving their financial well-being—than non-members.

It also provides interesting insights into what makes the credit union difference so special: 

  • Credit unions excel in helping members with four key components of financial health: spending, saving, borrowing, and planning. 
  • Credit union members are 1.5 times more likely than nonmembers to say they are “very positive” their financial institution has improved their financial well-being.
  • Credit union members are twice as likely to say they’ve received personalized financial education or counseling.

These are the good things that happen when we put people before profit. They go beyond providing a basic level of customer service because they’re the foundational pieces of who we are. 

Members might not know the ins and outs of credit union governance, but they know we’re on their side because that’s how they feel after interacting with their credit union.

‘If we put the member first, we can’t go wrong.’

Members feel they have an organization working with them toward their success.

Trust is a foundational piece of any relationship, and our members trust us to do right by them. That’s what we need to always keep in mind when we plan for ways to maintain or increase our relevance to future members.

If we zoom out and look at the larger trends, you’ll see consumers, especially young adults and people of color, want to be involved with organizations that share their priorities. They want more than a simple transaction.

Financial well-being for all

Organizations express and measure these priorities through their mission, values, daily operations, and personal interactions. Nearly half of credit union members feel “very positive” that their institution is in touch with and cares about the local community, compared to 30% of bank customers.

These are the elements associated with deep, meaningful, long-standing relationships—the kind that are at the heart of our movement. 

They’re also elements credit unions excel in by our very DNA. We succeed when—and only when—our members succeed. 

Prioritizing the needs of members, community, and employees is how we create value for each of those groups, and it’s another thing that sets us apart.

JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO at Credit Union National Association.